Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Australian Ballet 2009 season

The AB launched their 2009 program last night, another year of David McAllister's safe-as-houses scheduling. There's been a real pattern emerge in recent years; the traditional story made-over, some new short works and a classic to keep the punters happy.

Not much has changed for '09. In fact, there are quite a few repeats of ballets performed by the company in just the last couple of years.

One of two full-length story ballets to be performed is Stanton Welch's Sleeping Beauty, which premiered in 2005. The other is Graeme Murphy's Nutcracker. While this particular Nutcracker hasn't been seen in Melbourne since 2000, Peter Wright's version of the same fable was performed by the company in 2007. Is ballet really so short of storylines that we have to recycle them in such short rotation?

Murphy will also create a new work for the company - a re-visioning of the Ballet Russes classic Firebird. It will feature in a triple bill with the original Fokine ballets Petrouchka and Les Sylphides. Sylphides is also a repeat - it was performed in the Fokine tribute McAllister put together for the 2006 program - but a safe bet for marketing purposes.

Another well known name, (and thus guarantor of bums on seats), Nacho Duato, will anchor the second triple bill. Duato's Por vos muero will accompany two new works by Wayne McGregor (UK) and Alexei Ratmansky (Russia), both upcoming choreographers in the ballet world. Here at least is a chance for an interesting night of contemporary choreography!

Which brings me to wonder why Melbourne is still excluded from the Bodytorque season. Surely there is enough audience interest to warrant it? Or are the AB worried about competing with the fabulous independent contemporary dance scene here?

They certainly have the independents out-done in the marketing stakes. Teaming black with white, the Paris Match double bill features yet another repeat in Suite en Blanc (last performed in 2005, see my review here) plus Stanton Welch's Divergence, created on the AB in 1994. I never saw it performed, but I can remember the fabulous photos of Justine Summers in that black industrial-strength tutu (above), which I'm sure will also help to draw the crowds.

So, for us fussy, regular dance goers, 2009 will be a year of few surprises at the ballet. Lets hope that when the Ballet Russes tributes are over we'll get some more interesting fodder.

To help you make up your own mind, the company has also launched a flashy new

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